Thursday, June 1, 1995

Nancy and McDonald, peaceful co-existence

On one of the busiest sections of Shanghai's Huaihai Road, there is a fast food restaurant doing brisk business called Nancy's Fast Food. The logo is the slightly exaggerated letter "N" in one and one half golden arches on an orange red background that McDonald's made famous. A sub-title underneath the restaurant sign reads: Chinese Foreign Joint Venture. If Nancy's had opened in the U.S., the owner would have heard from McDonald's lawyers in no time flat. But this is China and Nancy's owner is said to have powerful relatives. Besides, Nancy's had been in business for almost two years before McDonald's entered Shanghai. McDonald's approach was to open its first restaurant just a few store fronts from Nancy's. In effect, Nancy has introduced the concept of fast food to Shanghai consumers and McDonald's is taking advantage of the built-in stream of customers. Nancy's offers all sorts of fast food but no hamburgers; the last time I looked, both places were busy with lots of customers.

Lesson: In Asia, symbiosis works better than confrontation.

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